On the Islands and on the air: Apostle Islands Symposium recap on Wisconsin Public Radio

With over 650 registrants, the 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium sponsored by Friends of the Apostle Islands was a huge success. If you missed it or just wanted to relive the excitement of the event, the Wisconsin Public Radio program, “Simply Superior” offers you a way to do just that.

Hosted by award-winning radio personality Robin Washington, the first half of the hour-long program offers a taste of several of the nearly 30 programs given at the Symposium with commentary by Jeff Rennicke, Executive Director of Friends of the Apostle Islands.

Washington acknowledged the Symposium as part of a celebration of 50 years of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He said, “We all know the Apostle Islands as a gift of nature — and some of ’em our own little secret. They officially became a national treasure on September 26th, 1970, with their designation as a National Lakeshore.”

The program includes audio excerpts from some of the sessions, most of which focus on science and elements of the park that most people may not know about. “These islands are not only a beautiful place to kayak, hike, or beach-comb,” Rennicke said. “They are a treasure trove for scientists of many disciplines offering us a glimpse of where we have been, where we are, and where we might be headed in everything from climate change to bird migrations to fishery habitat.”

Rennicke also talked about what the Friends organization does, including being a sponsor of the Resource Stewardship Symposium. Of the Friends, Washington said, “It must be great to be the Friend of something that everybody loved.” “We all do love these islands,” Rennicke said. “Being a Friend of the Apostle Islands is a way for you to display that love for the islands and a way for you to give back… we help you help.”

Following the segment on scientific research, the program takes an artist turn with sample readings from A is for Apostle Islands. A literary project headed up by Bayfield Poet Laureate Lucy Tyrrell, A is for Apostle Islands brings together the collective works of 26 poets and 26 artists for a page-turning journey through the Apostle Islands from Anishinaabe to Zigzag Golden Rod. The poets themselves read and explained their works.

“Tell me your secrets, Gitchi Gami. I want to know what alchemy spins the summer sky to gold and black magic nights. Tell me of your love and gentle swells.”

From the science to the poetry of the Apostle Islands, listen to it all on “Simply Superior” from Wisconsin Public Radio. Listen to the segment any time at https://www.wpr.org/listen/1784426.

You can also watch the Resource Stewardship Symposium sessions on the Friends website here.

And be sure to also join us on April 26th for a live Zoom event dedicated to the ABC book project. Read about that opportunity here. Attendance is limited to 100 so be there on time.)

Friends teams up with Bigtop Chautauqua to celebrate Earth Day and the Islands


Big ideas can change the world. In 1970, Gaylord Nelson saw two of his big ideas do just that. On April 22, 1970 Nelson’s dream of a world-wide celebration of the earth blossomed into the first Earth Day, an event that drew over 20 million people in its first year and has grown into a cultural phenomenon that now engages close to a billion people annually in 192 countries across the globe. Then, on September 26, 1970, another of Gaylord Nelson’s ideas became a reality with the creation of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

These Islands - Bob Jauch photo
These Islands – Bob Jauch photo

Friends of the Apostle Islands is teaming up with Bigtop Chautauqua to celebrate both those big ideas. So, cue the stage lights, strike up the band, or at least tune in at 7 pm on Friday, April 23rd for a Tiny Tent Show celebration of Earth Day and the Islands with Bigtop Chautauqua and Friends of the Apostle Islands. 

“There used to be a popular bumpersticker: Think Globally/Act Locally,” says Jeff Rennicke, Executive Director of Friends. “With these big ideas, Gaylord Nelson did both. Earth Day changed the way we see and celebrate the globe and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ensures that there will be at least a small local corner of that globe preserved for all of us who appreciate its beauty.” 

The special presentation will air at 7 pm on Friday, April 23rd on Facebook and YouTube and will feature an interview with Friends Executive Director Jeff Rennicke, a presentation on the Dark Sky Lighthouse photography project presented by photographer Mark Weller, and a breathtaking display of Apostle Islands photography set to original music composed by the Bigtop’s own Ed Willett. 

Think globally by celebrating Earth Day. Act locally by supporting Friends of the Apostle Islands. Do both by tuning into this special presentation of “Tiny Tent Show” on Friday, April 23rd at 7 pm. 

Lakeshore Logbook – Jason Johnson

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the tenth in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Jason Johnson worked as a park ranger in the protection division starting in 2005.

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
There were so many cool things I did during my time at APIS, but being a traditional Ranger working in law enforcement (LE), search and rescue (SAR), emergency medical services (EMS), and fire was amazing.  So many parks have gone away from the traditional Ranger skillset and they are limited to one or two of the emergency services.  Being able and even encouraged to maintain a variety of skills keeps the job fun!

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park. 
The most fun experience was working with the great staff at the park over the years.  Even though the staff may have changed through the years, creating the lasting friendships will always bring a smile to my face.

Jason Johnson Windsled
Jason operating the windsled “Northwind”

Some of the most memorable experiences were participating in SAR calls on Lake Superior during extreme conditions.  Operating a park vessel in sea conditions greater than five feet and actually rescueing someone in these conditions is an amazing feeling.

Jason Johnson (kneeling on the ice in orange and black) with group participating in ice rescue training

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?
I saw too many amazing things at the park over the years to limit it to one.  The northern lights I saw on numerous occasions while working the night shift on a Friday or Saturday, the sunsets from nearly every perspective and location in the park during my evening patrols, all the wild creatures of the park, to the different faces of Lake Superior itself (flat calm waters to waves greater than ten feet and everything in between.)

Sunset Little Sand Bay
Sunset at Little Sand Bay

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride.
One of my greatest accomplishments was helping to advance the park’s search and rescue program.  From my early years at the park when it was mostly only Visitor Services and Ranger Protection staff that responded to calls, to building a multi-divisional SAR team that could respond to any type of SAR call with confidence, training, and equipment to safely accomplish the mission.  A big part of this was improving upon the ice awareness training for all park staff and becoming the first Ice Rescue Instructor for the park.

Jason Johnson (left) checking ice conditions at the ice caves
Jason leading ice rescue training
Jason leading ice rescue training

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently? 
The stories I share most frequently are of the two supervisors I worked for; Greg Zeman and John Pavkovich.  Both died shortly after they retired from the park, but both touched so many lives during their time at the park.  Greg Zeman was Chief Ranger at APIS for over ten years and was issued badge number 201.  When I left APIS to become Chief Ranger at Congaree NP in SC I requested and received his old Chief Ranger badge.  I wear badge number 201 proudly every day remembering the legacy he and Pako left behind.

Ranger John “Pako” Pavkovich
Former chief ranger Greg Zeman

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?
It’s hard to pick only one place to return to if I came back, but it would probably be the Ice Caves before they are opened to the public.  Checking the ice conditions and seeing all the fragile ice formations before they were destroyed by people, time, or weather was something I’ll never forget.

Jason (right) checking ice conditions at the ice caves
Jason (right) checking ice conditions at the ice caves

Jason is currently the Chief Ranger at Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

We would like to thank him for his entry in the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.

A is for Apostle Islands—virtual book reception and reading on April 26

Join this celebration of the Apostle Islands 50th and the forthcoming book A is for Apostle Islands, an ABC book for all ages!

Bayfield Poet Laureate Lucy Tyrrell will lead this virtual “page turn” journey from Apostle Islands and Anishinaabe to Zigzag Goldenrod.

The 26 contributing artists will talk briefly about their ABC art, and the 26 poets will read their poems.

The first 100 attendees can use this  Zoom link https://zoom.us/j/92422641307 with Passcode: 036742. Please join by 5:55 p.m. The program begins at 6 p.m. on April 26th.

Watch now: celebrating the science, arts and future of the Apostle Islands

Hundreds watched the virtual Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium event live. If you missed it – or want to watch some of your favorite sessions again – now you can, on the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore website. Watch, learn and enjoy hearing from experts in all aspects of the national lakeshore, as we celebrate the first 50 years of the park we love and look to the future.

If you’re a recreational user of the park – a paddler, a camper, a hiker, a sailor, a boater, or a lighthouse lover, the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium will open your eyes some aspects of the national lakeshore that you may not know about, and hopefully will help you to appreciate the park even more.

Scientists with expertise in everything from plants and amphibians to mammals and fisheries have been studying what’s happening in and around the islands for years. They’v been exploring the bottom of Lake Superior as well as life in the deepest forests and on the shorelines in between. Cultural experts have embraced the islands too, bringing history to life. And young people… the generation that will steward this park into the future… have been capturing images beneath the surface and creating their own stories about this jewel of Lake Superior.

If you already love the national lakeshore for its wild beauty, iconic lighthouses and stories of the past, we hope this event will help you love it even more, and find your own way to nurture, protect and steward the park for future generations.

To kick off the event, Alan Brew, Executive Director of the Sigurd Olson Institute and Lynne Dominy, Superintendent of the National Lakeshore deliver opening remarks on how this event came to be and what “resource stewardship” really means, as we celebrate the past and plan for the future of this national treasure.

We’ve organized the sessions, as they were presented during the virtual event, given that organizers thought a lot about how one presentation builds on the next. We encourage you to work your way through Day 1, then move on to Day 2.

The video icon in the headline signifies that video is available for that session. We’ll be adding questions and answers to individual session pages as we get those responses from our presenters. When you’re done, let us know what you think! Share your ideas and feedback here.

We want to thank the presenters for sharing their expertise and passion and the organizers who worked countless hours to pull this 50th Anniversary event together. The pandemic forced us to go virtual. And while it was not the original plan, there is a silver lining in that the Symposium is now available to you as an enduring educational opportunity.

This online event is supported by Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Northland College, the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service and the Bayfield Heritage Association.

Symposium sponsors
Friends of the Apostle Islands


Lakeshore Logbook – Sheree Peterson

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the ninth in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Sheree Peterson worked as a seasonal ranger starting in 1978. 

“I came to work at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) in May 1978, as a seasonal naturalist.  I had just graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in wildlife management, and had worked at Isle Royale National Park for the previous two summers.  APIS was a fairly new park, and no one that I knew had even heard of it.  But I loved Lake Superior, and headed north in my white Rambler station wagon.  I can still remember the first time that I turned off of U.S. Hwy 2 and headed north on Hwy 13 to Bayfield, looking out over the big lake.

I was first stationed on Stockton Island, where I was told that there was a cabin that I would share with Beth Burkhart, another naturalist who had been at the park for a year or two.  When I was dropped off at Presque Isle by the Kiwatin, I discovered that our cabin addition was only framed in.  We lived and worked out of a nylon tent for a month until the building was finished.  It was a very cold, foggy month and I remember wondering if I would ever get warm again.  The lowest point was finding out that I was being charged rent for the tent.  We were very happy when we were finally able to move into the finished cabin. 

Sheree at a picnic table with visitors near the Presque Isle dock on Stockton Island

Presque Isle was a lovely spot and the dock brought in many overnight boaters and campers.  Some visited frequently and knew the islands well.  I learned a lot from them and we had fun socializing.  Special boaters were Everett and Eva on a large power boat called the Adventurer.  

Sheree greeting passengers from the cruise boat Sea Queen at Stockton Island

My job included giving guided hikes to visitors who arrived daily aboard the excursion boat Sea Queen, giving campfire programs, and other interpretive activities.  Julian Bay was a beautiful place to explore and the bog plants were amazing. 

Leading a hike at Julian Bay, 1978.
My beautiful pictureSheree and her puppet at a campfire program

I organized a blueberry pancake breakfast there one early August morning.  I carried in a camp stove, cooking utensils, and ingredients.  An enthusiastic group of campers and boaters joined me and we ate pancakes loaded with blueberries that we had just picked on the tombolo. 

Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) enrollees were camped all summer in the Presque Isle campground doing trail work and other projects.  There were also several researchers staying on the island for long periods while doing some of the baseline surveys of birds, soils, vegetation, etc.  It was an interesting little community on the island and we enjoyed many campfire gatherings and learned a lot from each other. 

Lynne (YACC), Doug (YACC), Butch Wichlidal (NPS), and Kelly (YACC).

When fall came, I ended up staying in Bayfield and working seasonally at APIS for four years.  At that time, park headquarters was located in a 1960s ranch-style house at Little Sand Bay.  Roy and Irene Hokenson were still living in their home next to their fishery building.  I remember watching them pick apples from their tree on a beautiful fall day.  Irene had a bushel basket balanced on her head while Roy stood on a ladder picking apples and setting them in the basket.  Later I was invited to share a piece of warm apple pie around their kitchen table.  

Live-trapping a problem bear on Stockton, 1978.  Beth Burkhart (naturalist), Jim Hummel (ranger), and Rich Stavdal (ranger).

When the old courthouse building renovation was completed in Bayfield, I helped move the APIS administrative files, equipment, and furniture into the new headquarters.  That fall, I designed and painted the APIS float in the Apple Festival Parade that featured the park’s new home.  With a new auditorium in the headquarters building, I began giving interpretive programs there, as well as at the Red Cliff Campground, Apostle Islands View Campground, and Washburn’s Memorial Park.  Off-season, I helped with research and planning projects.  In 1980, I received a Special Achievement Award for cataloging the park’s collection of historic photographs.  

Apple Festival float, 1978

It was my privilege to get to know and work with several people at APIS who left this earth much too soon:  Lee Anderson (Chief Ranger), Phil Hastings (Chief Naturalist), Tim Carpenter (Seasonal Ranger), Phil Johanik (Dispatcher), Brent McGuinn (Seasonal Ranger), and Mary (Torbick) Beedlow (Dispatcher).  They were fine people.

One winter, I attended a CPR course held at APIS headquarters.  There I met a guy named Phil Peterson, we married in 1983, and continue to live in Bayfield.  I have worked in the field of public history over the years, including 10 years at Madeline Island Museum.  As a private contractor, I was privileged to transcribe the original lighthouse logbooks for Raspberry and Long islands, and to write a history of Camp Stella on Sand Island.  

My husband and I continue to enjoy the Apostle Islands, mostly by kayak.  I never tire of looking at the beautiful layers of brownstone revealed along the island shorelines, red-breasted mergansers herding their little ones to safe places among the boulders, otter families playing on Sand Island, and peaceful secluded beaches.”

We would like to thank Sheree for her entry in the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.

A challenge for participants and for you, as the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium ends

BAYFIELD, Wis. Saying, “stewardship starts with collaboration,” Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent Lynne Dominy closed the 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship symposium with three questions. She also presented the audience watching online with a challenge based on the presentations they had seen.

During 2 days of presentations, almost 30 experts from a wide variety of fields revealed things about the park that many recreational visitors may not realize. Things like the remarkable diversity of plants and animals in and around the islands. Some, like the American marten and piping plover are worthy of protection while invasive species including lamprey eels and zebra mussels are threats to be measured and monitored.

Marten Cover
American marten (image from the presentation)

The experts explored the cultural teachings, the human connections and archaeological artifacts of the past, and how we can apply traditional ecological knowledge to manage the islands for today and tomorrow.

Scientists also shared surprises revealed by their exploration of the depths of Lake Superior, the arboreal forests, the bogs and wetlands, the singing-sand beaches and the iconic sandstone cliffs.

They talked about how climate change is warming the lake at a rapid rate, and what the long-term trends may mean for the islands and their inhabitants.

Speakers also showed the creative, artistic the positive impact these islands are having on children… the next generation that will be entrusted with stewarding the national lakeshore into the future.

Under Surface Cover
“Under the Surface” participant (image from the presentation)

With all of this as her foundation, Dominy said, “take a deep breath and think a bit about what you’ve heard over the last two days.”

She encouraged the audience to think about what they have done to steward the lakeshore in the past. She said, “It’s really important to look back and recognize efforts, accomplishments and successes of the past because they are a part of the future.”

She then asked everyone to consider how the pandemic has changed their behavior in the present. “Try to find something positive from the crisis,” she said, “because you have to acknowledge your resilience before you can think about the future.”

Her last question looked to the future: “What actions should we take individually or together to steward this place between now and 2050?” Dominy talked the work now being done by the Park Service to develop a resource stewardship strategy. About that, she said, “a lot of the reason we did this symposium is to listen. This is kind of like having a prescription for stewardship – what are we going to spend our time, effort and money on over the next 10, 20, 30 years?”

Dominy said the process really starts with “caring and respecting and working together.” While the scope of the stewarding the park may seem big and overwhelming, Dominy said it is important to develop a series of “small tangible things that we can measure to know that we are making progress and move it forward every year.” 

600 people registered for the symposium. Dominy encouraged them to provide their actionable ideas through an online feedback form and through ongoing involvement with the park and allied organizations.

In the weeks ahead, we will publish an on-demand version of the symposium on the Friends of the Apostle Islands website. We invite you to watch the presentation videos and will give you an opportunity to share your ideas and feedback too.

We want to thank the National Park Service, the presenters, the sponsors and the many people behind the scenes who made this amazing 50th Anniversary event possible. We hope you enjoyed it and encourage you to join us and get involved as we continue to celebrate 50 years of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Symposium closing remarks

Symposium Banner

Thank you for participating in the Apostle Islands 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium. We’re pleased to present the web edition, which follows our 2-day live virtual event, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

To conclude the event, Lynne Dominy delivers a challenge to you, no matter what your relationship to the national lakeshore may be. She returned to the questions she asked during her opening remarks.

We invite you to watch all of the wonderful sessions, then watch Lynne’s closing remarks. And when you’re done, let us know what you think! Share your ideas and feedback here.

Symposium Program in PDF format

Coverage of Lynne Dominy’s closing remarks

Presenter biography

Lynne Dominy, Superintendent, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Lynne Dominy

Lynne became the superintendent of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, on the southern shore of Lake Superior in 2019.

As a steward of this great lakes landscape, Lynne supports an exceptional team of managers and staff focused on operating and stewarding this national lakeshore. Her 30 years in the NPS includes various positions held at Acadia NP, Little Bighorn NM, Bandelier NM, Point Reyes NS, Grand Canyon NP, and Carlsbad Caverns NP.

Lynne loves working with skilled and passionate NPS teams and park partners to communicate the importance of our sites and to engage communities and visitors in their stewardship. She enjoys creative problem solving and working with staff to find real solutions to management issues.

Lynne cares deeply about Tribal and community relationships and values the importance of creating the next generation of park stewards through youth engagement. Lynne has a deep passion for our nation’s water resources- our relationship to them for navigation, survival, recreation, and relaxation. She is an avid kayaker, photographer, and swimmer so she spends as much time as possible in and on the water.

This online event is supported by Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Northland College, the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service and the Bayfield Heritage Association.

To sample more sessions choose below

Under the surface and Zaaga’igan Ma’iinganag (lakewolves): creating immersive life-long and life-saving connections between teens and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Symposium Banner

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) has personally impacted the lives of people across the nation. Lake Superior permeates nearly every aspect of Park visitor experience, forming the bonds between ecological, cultural, and deeply personal dimensions of the Park.

Connections between our well-being and the protected waters of the Park are important but not always easy to access, maintain or articulate for all people.

Under the Surface and Zaaga’igan Ma’iinganag (Lakewolves) are sister programs that provide literally immersive experiences to teens in the Apostle Islands.

Northwest Passage, Ltd. is a youth mental health center devoted to outdoor experiences as one pillar among other traditional treatment modalities.

Under the Surface is one of its signature programs, and has shared photographs of APIS throughout the nation. Zaaga’igan Ma’iinganag is a partnership between Bayfield High School and Northwest Passage.

This program provides local teens the opportunity to explore their waters, their culture and themselves using the tools developed by Under the Surface. Together the programs are a unique and powerful realization of National Park Service goals to integrate personal connections, environmental education, and artistic expression into life-long relationships.

Both programs have produced galleries that re-connect viewers to their own experiences in the Park. In this presentation, program directors Ian Karl and Toben Lafrançois highlight the photos and reflections from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s next generation of water protectors in celebration of it’s 50th anniversary.

Lakewolves website

Northwest Passage website

Presenter biographies

Ian Karl, Northwest Passage Ltd.

Toben Lafrançois, Northland College

and Northwest Passage Ltd.

Ian Karl is the Experiential Programming Coordinator for Northwest Passage Ltd. Toben Lafrançois is a Research Associate at Northland College and the Associate Programming Coordinator for Northwest Passage Ltd.

To sample more sessions choose below

Through the eyes of 4th graders

Symposium Banner

Through the Eyes of Fourth Graders is a book written and illustrated by students about their experiences in the natural environments of the area.

This presentation shares that journey, the experiences, lessons and most importantly, the thoughts expressed by young people through words and images.

The objectives of environmental education programs are to develop participant awareness, sensitivity and the understanding of their affective relationship to the natural environment, usually through conceptual knowledge and personal experience.

Recent, evidence-based studies suggest that experiences that forge emotional connections and encourage curiosity are most likely to succeed and have long-lasting influence that inspires environmentally responsible behavior and achieves environmental literacy.

Environmental literacy gained through experiential participation is also thought to aid in the development of values, problem solving skills, healthy cognition and emotional intelligence. 

At home activity sheets and Junior Ranger books can be found at go.nps.gov/ApostleKids

Steve Ballou, Apostle Islands NL

Presenter biography

Steve Ballou

Steve Ballou, is an Interpretive Ranger at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore where he has the privilege of connecting people to the wonders of the Islands and the Great Lakes Environment through educational and experiential outreach.

As part of connecting the park and rangers to people Steve launched a kayak ranger program last summer that facilitated placed-based interaction with visitors along the mainland sea caves and not so unintentionally made his job that much more awesome.

A geologist by training, Steve previously worked in an academic setting and has served as a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone National Park for over a decade before coming to the Apostle Islands. He enjoys several silent sports and spends much of his time paddling among and enjoying the islands, and is excited and honored to share “Through the eyes of fourth graders” as part of the symposium.

To sample more sessions choose below